World Cup player Morgan Brian coaches inner city girls in Brunswick

Youngest player on U.S. team that beat Japan in World Cup worked with girls 8-15 

Georgia Times Union, By Terry Dickson

Seventeen girls were watching a video Tuesday that featured Morgan Brian, the 22-year-old local woman who played on the U.S. women’s national soccer team that won the World Cup last summer.
Then who walks in but Morgan Brian in the amazingly fit flesh.

mbrian1“It was awesome. I never thought she was actually going to come here,’’ said Eunice Quartery. “I almost cried.”  “I cried for real,’’ said Milly Valaquez, her fellow player in the Coastal Outreach Soccer program at Brunswick’s Roosevelt Lawrence Center. 

And it wasn’t as if Brian walked in, said a few words and left: She stayed for 1 1/2 hours putting the 17 players, all between 8 and 15, through some drills and coaching them. That was after she signed backpacks, phones, pieces of paper, arms, T-shirts, palms and a lot of other things the girls thrust at her.  She signed a wallet for Xala Williams, who said, “This is an amazing experience.”

Brian’s life as a soccer player has been amazing in itself. She was recognized as the top player in the nation while playing at Frederica Academy on St. Simons Island. She played for the University of Virginia, where she was awarded the Hermann Trophy as the top college player in the nation and then it was on to the U.S. national team.

Brian’s father, Steve Brian, looked on as she put the young girls through their paces.  Brian said his daughter did a soccer camp Monday in Jacksonville with 250 players. She is instantly recognizable these days, and Sports Illustrated was so taken by the World Cup win that readers could order specially printed copies with her or any of the other players on the cover.  She played in every game of the World Cup tournament and started in the last three, serving as the equivalent of a quarterback, distributing the ball to the other players.mbrian

She worked easily with the Coastal Outreach players Tuesday, and when a girl said she couldn’t do something, Brian said, “Never say can’t’’ and she encouraged them to slow down and develop their technique first.  “Go slow until you’re good at it,’’ she said.  In a later footwork drill with the older girls, Brian joined them in their laughter and encouraged them.  “I like the way you’re getting your knees up,’’ she said.

Brian told the Times-Union she’s done a lot of coaching and that as her game improved, so has that of those she tutors in the sport.  “Now I’ve coached all levels,’’ Brian said.

Shawn Williams, director of Coastal Outreach Soccer, said there is far more to the program than the game. The program was grateful for the visit that Ellen Post, a friend of the Brian family, helped arrange.
This is the first group of 25 girls in the outreach program, Williams said, “and we know that number needs to grow drastically.”  “We’ve always had 40 to 50 boys, but we’ve never had a group of girls,’’ he said.  Young, inner-city men have always been the focus because it was thought they were most susceptible to getting into trouble, Williams said.  “But what about young girls? How about keeping them in school? How about addressing the social isolation they tend to form?’’ he said.  “Let’s talk about going to college, and how we’re going about getting that done,’’ he said.

Brian can help make those points to young girls along with showing them how exercise pays off, he said.
Some of the girls who entered the program didn’t even know how to run because they had never gotten outside and played, Williams said.  Meanwhile, the soccer program also shows the young charges there is life outside what they see every day.  The girls got to travel to Atlanta and see what life is like outside Brunswick and were exposed to other possibilities and opportunities, Williams said.ue, Dec 22, 2015